A Tribute to Paul Kember: A Graveside Tribute

David Oliver

Readings (Acts 8:1-4; 11:19; 1 Corinthians 15:35-38)

"Steady, kind, direct, consistent, honorable, contented, patient, thorough, gentlemanly, humble, gentle, caring, pleasant, devoted, focused, self-effacing, fearless, level-headed, servant-minded, solid, faithful, hospitable, independent, sociable, unpretentious, genuine, beloved," Paul Kember was not a headline man. At 4 o'clock Tuesday, November 25, the Lord put him into the headlines. He put an exclamation point on Paul's ministry, put in bold type his recent ministry on the shortness of life and the satisfaction of living life for the Lord and the gospel. A dear brother wrote me since Paul's home call saying, Only one life is more than a poem. Only one life, 'twill soon be past; Only what's done for Christ will last. In one collision (I prefer not to say "accident"), allowed by His loving hand, the Lord masterfully communicated to us all that the steady, consistent life is what counts. This is the quality of life that brings glory to God, that is the backbone of gospel work, that preserves testimony for the Lord Jesus. I had noted the following poem and planned to quote it before reading it on the funeral program:

A fruitful life is not a blaze
Of sudden glory won,
But just an adding up of days,
In which God's will is done.

We remember his carefully thought out messages, but Paul's eloquence was his life. Gathered here today, we think we can understand the hearts of 5000 Christians in Jerusalem who must have wondered why God allowed such a promising and useful life as Stephen's to end so unjustly.

Then from the readings in Acts, A Broadcast, The Seed Scattered; The Subject, The Death of a Stephen; A Word of Challenge.

And from the reading in I Corinthians, A Burial, A Seed Sown; The Subject, The Death of a Saint; A Word of Comfort.

Timothy Kember closed in prayer and we sang, "It May Be at Morn."